first published on June 20, 2017 by Trevor
In response to the United States downing of a Syrian SU-22, Russian officials have threatened that they will target US coalition aircraft that fly west of the Euphrates River. The Russian defense ministry claims that the US violated international law when it took action. Russia’s presence as Assad’s ally and source of meaningful air support continues to put them in opposition to American operations. US officials reiterated their commitment to the war and safety of US personnel as the situation heats up in Syria.
Russia’s defense ministry said Monday that it was suspending coordination with the U.S. in Syrian “de-confliction zones.” This includes the line of communication that is meant to prevent conflicting actions in Syrian airspace. General Dunford responded by saying “I’m confident that we are still communicating between our operations center and the Russian Federation Operations Center — and I’m also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves.”
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said, “We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened.” The Pentagon is standing by its aggressive posture in Syria and shows no sign of wavering in the face of Russian threats.
The latest events in Syria are proof that a larger conflict could be looming in the near future. The Russian response to American aerial operations is nothing new, but the addition of intensified Iranian operations is new. Having another ally active in Syria could give the Russians the confidence to make good on their threats. This also puts the US in the position of tiptoeing around three regimes in the region, regimes that are less than sympathetic to the American cause. With the current complexity of operations and players in Syria, it seems inevitable that tensions will continue to escalate.